Friday, August 16, 2013

Moving Past IM & Presence? Minimize Your Risks Upfront by Asking 3 Crucial Questions

In an increasingly competitive business environment, companies looking to become more productive through improved collaboration are taking a closer look at Microsoft Lync Enterprise for Voice.
And, if you're like other leading companies, you will also be asking 3 crucial questions prior to deployment.
  1. What are the risks?
  2. What is the quality?
  3. How will it transform my company?

Read Improving Corporate Collaboration:Microsoft Lync – The Complete Business Collaboration Solution where Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research gives the answers to those three crucial questions before deploying Microsoft Lync Enterprise Voice.
Register for series on the right.

Then, watch Moving Past IM & Presence - Minimize Your Risks Upfront by Asking 3 Crucial Questions, the related short, on-demand webcast.
To access these materials about enterprise conferencing and more, register for the Beyond IM and Presence: Best Practices for Deploying Microsoft Lync series on the right.
Access analyst briefs, on-demand webcasts and tools in the Beyond IM and Presence: Best Practices for Deploying Microsoft Lync Series by completing this form:

Polycom + Microsoft: Better Together
Discover how Microsoft + Polycom are better together in this short video. Then, register above to access premium analyst research.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

3 Reasons to Hire Nervous Job Candidates

boxheadFor many people, interviews are one of the most nerve racking things that they can do. It’s not surprising when you think about it, since there is a lot at stake: the job of their dreams, the ability to make the next mortgage/rent check, regaining a lost sense of self esteem, etc.

With so much being at stake, isn’t it perfectly understandable that many candidates may succumb to nerves during an interview? The problem is that these nerves can indeed impair their interview performance and hinder the interview process – candidates can speak too quickly, slur their speech, have temporary memory loss and basically not give a true representation of their ability. This means that it is very easy to miscast nervous candidates as basket cases or incompetents who are not suitable for the job, when in truth they could be more appropriately skilled than some of the more outspoken and forward applicants.

In fact, three studies back up the idea that nervous candidates may be in fact disguising underlying brilliance.

The first was a study by Corinne Bendersky from UCLA’s School of Management. In her study she looked at MBA students and classified them as an extrovert and introvert (typically more neurotic and nervous) and she looked at the perceived status of these students. They found that those who were seen to be more extroverted were perceived to be of higher status and a better potential contributor to the effort. While neurotics were seen as lower status and they were expected to make a smaller contribution (this superficial first impression is an effect that is likely to be replicated in the interview room). But, what was most interesting was that at the end of the 10 week study/project period, the extroverts were seen to have lost status and to have contributed less than expected and neurotics were seen to have contributed more than expected and gained status as a result. Corinne concluded that extrovert traits that may them stand out from the crowd can fail in a team based situations. And the dull, uninspiring traits of introverts can make them effective on the job.

So, if you are hiring for roles with a collaborative element consider that the more nervous and neurotic may make a very positive contribution.

Corinne completed a second study which looked at team perceptions of neurotics and extroverts before and after working together and revealed that the general preconception is that the volatility and negativity of neurotics will be a drag on the team and that the enthusiasm and energy of extroverts would boost the team. But, in the studies the contributions of extroverts were not as good as expected and the introvert performed beyond expectations in a team environment.

A third study by Adam Grant from Wharton compared the sales performance of a group of 340 introvert and extrovert sales people. They found that the most successful employees were the ambiverts (halfway between introvert and extrovert) earning 24 percent more than introverts and 32 percent more than extroverts. So, in a purely sales capacity, this study (albeit isolated)  has shown that extroverts are the worst performers.

Now, I am in no way suggesting that you exclusively hire introverts because you need a balanced team and introversion is just one of many qualities and skills which can lead to the employee being a higher performer. But, that is the point; while you should not hire someone just because they are introvert, equally it does not make sense to overlook someone because their introversion and neuroticism may have affected their presentation during the interview. Try and build selection processes that allow both introverts and extroverts to shine and develop interview techniques that relax candidates and which coach nervous candidates back into a state where they give an authentic demonstration of their ability, enabling you to make truer assessment of their abilities.

If you need help with effectively interviewing nervous candidates, watch out for the second part of this article titled, “8 Tips for Interviewing Nervous Candidates.”

Kazim Ladimeji  |  June 19, 2013  |

Monday, July 15, 2013

Can tablets handle business?

On 27 January 2010, Apple launched the iPad, and sparked something of a revolution in mobile computing. Tablets have since become the computer of choice for many people, and the consumer-oriented devices have increasingly found their way into business life.

Many companies have since been attempting to take a piece of the Apple pie by releasing various competing models, from the hundreds of Android devices on the market – sparking court cases galore – to a handful of Windows devices and the BlackBerry Playbook.

“The consumer purchases a tablet and goes into work, acting as a brand advocate,” says Ovum principal analyst Richard Edwards. “They use it in every other area of life, so why not work? That’s how Apple has got so much scale.”

IT departments are bracing themselves for an influx of mobile devices, which will put a strain on the corporate Wi-Fi network and potentially open up companies to data security issues. But tablets have been suited more to the consumption of media than as devices for the enterprise.

There is a general lack of business software, but Microsoft is about to introduce a new option for CIOs with its launch of Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT on 26 October. The new version of Windows is tablet-optimised and could bridge the gap between Windows-based desktop computing and tablet computing, which has previously been limited mainly to Android and iOS devices. Research from Ovum has found people would like to use Andoid and iOS devices at work.
“We’re almost giving up the desk to become very mobile” Rob Bamforth, principal analyst Quocirca
“We’re in a transitionary space right now, where we’re almost giving up the desk to become very mobile,” says Quocirca principal analyst Rob Bamforth. “But it’s still difficult to call whether people will prefer something entirely tablet-like or the legacy keyboard.” A number of hybrid devices have been launched recently, in the run-up to Windows 8, including HP’s Envy x2, Dell's XPS Duo 12, Toshiba’s Satellite U920T and the Archos Gen10 XS. These hybrid devices have both touchscreens and keyboards – the latter either detaches or flips around to turn the device into a slate. The launch of Windows 8 will undoubtedly cause a stir in the coming months, but will its software encourage business users to invest in Windows 8-based tablets? To investigate this question further, Computer Weekly has looked at three devices to see how Android, Windows 8 and iOS fit in the enterprise


Fujitsu Stylistic M532


The Fujitsu Stylistic M532 tablet runs the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS. It is aimed at professionals looking for a small (25.7cm), lightweight (560g) tablet that can be easily integrated into their company’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). The device uses a Tegra 3 T30S 1.4 GHz quad-core ARM processor.
According to Fujitsu, users of the M532 can securely access business applications, data and company intranets. It is built specifically to protect any sensitive company data against leakage and unauthorised access. “The full range of devices support mobile device management services. For example, we have a Fujitsu managed mobile service that enables IT departments to remotely install, update and wipe a tablet,” says Dave Shaw, product manager for Stylistic tablets at Fujitsu.

The supplier also ships the device with Absolute Computrace, which enables the M532 to be tracked and wiped remotely, even if the drive has been formatted, providing peace of mind to both the user and the company’s IT department. Available for £462, the device looks stylish, can be held in one hand, and features a highdefinition screen and 8.4 hours of battery life. In terms of storage, it includes 32GB of flash memory and is configured with 1GB of RAM. The M532 comes pre-installed with £100 worth of business applications, including Citrix VMware View, ThinkFree Office, ES File Explorer, and Norton Security with a one-year subscription.


Samsung 700T running Windows 8


Windows is likely to remain king of the enterprise desktop, laptop and PC market for the foreseeable future, but how well can it run on a tablet?

The Samsung 700T tablet is what used to be called a slate PC. Originally released in 2011, it is a full-blown 11.6in touchscreen PC without a keyboard. It is currently selling on Amazon for £766.
The 700T is powered by an Intel Core i5 2467M 1.6GHz processor, has 4GB of RAM and features a 64GB solid-state disk. The screen is high resolution with vibrant colours. With a bluetooth keyboard and wireless mouse, the Samsung 700T could easily replace a notebook PC. The included docking station, which measures 11x10x1.5cm and doubles as a stand, has an Ethernet connector and an HDMI port.
The device is well-suited to running the final shipping version of Windows 8, with its touchscreen user interface. As expected, with Microsoft ActiveSync, connecting the Samsung 700T to an Exchange email server takes seconds, which should not burden the IT support desk. It requires a Windows Live account and connects seamlessly to Hotmail and Gmail.

There are not yet enough applications in the Microsoft Store to assess the suitability of this Windows 8 tablet as an enterprise device, but more Windows 8 software is likely to be become available when the new OS ships in October. Weighing just under 1kg and with battery life of around four to five hours, it is certainly not a tablet that could be used on the road all day. But the Kindle app works well and the large screen makes reading in landscape format particularly comfortable. It will be interesting to see how the Samsung 700T works in a full enterprise environment, as and when virtual private network, anti-virus, enterprise resource planning and business intelligence software, and apps such as Citrix Receiver, are certified for Windows 8.


Apple iPad


The Apple iPad is clearly the king of the tablet world. Apple’s ringfenced, yet sophisticated, ecosystem has managed to lock millions of customers into buying through iTunes, which could prove a barrier if businesses want to develop their own custom iPad applications for employees.

Featuring a 1GHz dual-core ARM chip, reviewers and analysts have always championed the iPad as a fantastic piece of kit. However, even as a leader in the tablet market, the iPad has never been aggressively targeted at business users. It is the most popular tablet in UK businesses because people buy it for personal use and take it into work. Prices start at £399 for the basic model. Due to the extensive app store, there are plenty of features and applications that work really well and aid the iPad in its work duties. The iOS operating system supports ActiveSync for connecting to Microsoft Exchange, while Citrix Receiver and Wyse PocketCloud deliver a Windows desktop for the iPad. Enterprise applications such as Microsoft OneNote,, Sage and Oracle Expenses are available in the Apple AppStore.

Along with a variety of planning, note-taking, file-sharing and scheduling apps, the iPad can contend with many of the made-for-enterprise tablets on the market. Its biggest downfall comes from a lack of multi-screen technology, which is now available on Android operating systems. It can become quite convoluted switching between different applications and web pages – something fans hope will be fixed in a future upgrade of the operating system.

There is also an array of choice when it comes to Apple accessories. Cases with in-built keyboards can increase productivity, and many do the job well. However, with an already expensive piece of kit, this is an additional cost. Surely if typing on the iPad – or any tablet for that matter – is so difficult, an ultrabook or transformer model tablet would be a more convenient tool?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

We're Entering the Era when Machines will "Learn" and "Think"

As we enter into the third major era of computing, Cognitive Computing represents a whole new approach to solving complex data and information analysis problems.
Eric W. Brown, Director of Watson Technologies, IBM

Ninety percent of the world's data was created in the last two years, and we are rapidly approaching a point where more than 80 percent of it is unstructured, including all of those documents, videos and audio files flying around the internet. In fact, one of the greatest challenges facing most businesses is how to make effective use of these enormous and growing volumes of data, something we call big data. In the medical field alone, the amount of information is doubling every five years, yet healthcare providers have precious little time to keep up with all of this information.

To address these challenges, IBM is working on the next era of computing systems, or the third major era of computing, which is called Cognitive Computing, or systems that can "learn" or "think."

As the third major era of computing, Cognitive Computing follows the first era, which consisted of tabulating machines and the second, the era of programmable computers. Cognitive systems represent a whole new approach to solving complex data and information analysis problems, in three ways: They use deep analytics for huge amounts of data; they have learning capabilities that allow the system to automatically learn and improve over time; and, they have natural interfaces between humans and computers.

IBM's Watson system is one of the first systems built as a Cognitive Computing system. Watson applies deep analytics to text and other unstructured data sources to extract meaning from the data, and applies inference and reasoning to solve complex problems. As a first step toward Cognitive Computing, Watson expands the boundaries of human cognition by providing humans with fast, efficient access to relevant knowledge trapped in huge volumes of unstructured data. This capability can be used for complex problem solving, such as helping health professionals to treat patients.

How does Watson work?

Watson provides significant value by using hundreds of analytics that apply natural language processing, information retrieval, text analysis, knowledge representation and reasoning, as well as machine learning, to understand complex problems, generate possible answers, and evaluate evidence from unstructured data. This processing is inspired by how we as humans solve problems. At the same time, it provides a look into the future where Cognitive Computing systems will perform tasks that previously, only humans could do, thus freeing up humans to apply our immense cognitive capabilities for significantly more complex problems.

Think about it: in the programmable systems era of computing, people had to think and solve problems the way a machine processes information. For the first time, Cognitive Computing systems will begin to move beyond being blunt instruments of numbers and words to representing events in the real world. Machines are beginning to understand our world as we do. They will learn, much in the way we do: through the senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch.

In this new era of computing, our machines will teach us and be taught by us. They will know the world through diverse inputs -- digital and organic -- for the purpose of helping people see through complexity, overcome bias, keep up with the speed of information and make better decisions. Cognitive computing is the driving force behind this change.

About the author of this Post

Eric W. Brown, Director of Watson Technologies, IBM
Eric W. Brown is the Director and Principal Investigator for Watson Technologies at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center. Eric earned his B.S. at the University of Vermont and M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts, all in Computer Science.Eric joined IBM in 1995 and has conducted research in information retrieval, document categorization, text analysis, question answering, bio-informatics and applications of automatic speech recognition. Since 2007 Eric has been a technical lead on the DeepQA project at IBM and the application of automatic, open domain question answering to build the Watson Question Answering system. The goal of Watson is to achieve human-level question answering performance. This goal was realized in February of 2011 when Watson beat Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a televised Jeopardy! exhibition match.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Clark County, Nev., Recorder Opts For Mobility and Accessibility

The Recorder's Office has launched a new Web-based kiosk service and an updated version of its mobile website.

 Last week, the Clark County, Nev. Recorder’s Office launched its new Web-based kiosk service, the latest phase of the department’s ongoing customer service-focused technology efforts, which already include a popular mobile version of the Recorder’s website.

In the release, County Recorder Debbie Conway said that Clark County wants to allow customers to complete transactions without waiting in lines. The machines also eliminate taxpayers’ need for excessive employee assistance.

Clark+County%2C+Nev.%2C+Recorder%27s+Office+kiosk“The vast improvements in kiosk technology have given us an opportunity to introduce a self-service that, in the past, required employee assistance,” Conway said in the release. “We will be able to offset or move more transactions from our front-line staff and to improve efficiencies.”
The kiosk is a freestanding, interactive machine with a touch screen interface that allows users to search for legal documents, including certified marriage certificates. The kiosk accepts payment via credit card instead of cash, and prints documents out instantly, eliminating the need for users to wait for mail delivery.

Courtney Hill, the office’s systems administrator, told Government Technology that the kiosk is basically a freestanding duplicate of the Recorder’s mobile website, which has been operational since August 2012, though it’s undergone successive iterations since its debut.

The county created the mobile website to address users’ growing mobile access needs. In the past, taxpayers used their mobile devices to access the Recorder’s traditional website, which hadn’t been optimized for mobile use and therefore created accessibility problems.

“It was because people were using their mobile phone or their tablet to place orders, and they weren’t coming through correctly," Hill said, "so we decided to make a website that was more mobile friendly."

Clark County Recorder Mobile Website
Conway expects most of the mobile users to be realtors, mortgage companies, surveyors and appraisers who need information while they’re in the field. She told Government Technology that Clark County created the mobile version of the website in part to address their needs.

“We asked them to come together and tell us some of their concerns, and how we could make our office more user-friendly for them,” Conway said.
The Recorder’s Office discovered that housing industry professionals desired a convenient way to access property documents on-the-go. “When we had that conversation with them, we realized that they needed immediate access to our records.”

Hill said that the creation of both the mobile website and kiosk was financed by revenue from county recording fees, though he didn’t disclose a specific amount. The site, which was created in part by the JavaScript Object Notation programming language, has hosted 757 transactions since its August go-live date.

Conway said she feels that the office’s customer service endeavors could be an example for other jurisdictions to follow.

“This type of technology, it’s really unique," she said, "and it’s really something good for recorders all across the country."

Main image courtesy of Wikipedia/Library of Congress. Smaller images courtesy of the Clark County Recorder's Office.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Baltimore Fills New Chief Data Officer Role

Baltimore's Inner Harbor
June 5, 2013 By
Big data and open data being the hot topics they are, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the role of “chief data officer” was created. San Francisco created the position, Philadelphia has one, and Chicago will likely replace outgoing CDO Brett Goldstein soon. And on June 1, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Heather Hudson as Baltimore's first chief data officer. Hudson, who started her new role on May 20, spent the past two years as the IT project manager in the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology.

In addition to continuing her work on the city's open data portal, OpenBaltimore, Hudson will be responsible for data warehousing and heading big data and business intelligence efforts in her new role.

There has been debate as to whether a chief data officer is a necessary position. Forrester Analyst Jennifer Belissent argued in a blog post that the new position is unnecessary in the public sector because the responsibilities fall under the purview of the CIO. She suggests that a working group would be a better solution. Industry Analyst Peter Aiken argued that the position is now more needed than ever because a CIO’s job function is so broad that an organization needs a specialist who knows data.

In Baltimore, Hudson said, there’s a definite need for a chief data officer because getting the organization’s data in order is such a big undertaking. In fact, she said, when she joined the city two years ago from her position as an IT project manager and programmer with NASA, maintaining the city’s open data effort was to be one of her main responsibilities. She quickly saw, however, that there were problems to overcome before the real work could begin.

Like many cities, Baltimore is budget constrained and wrestling with old mainframe systems, Hudson explained. Getting data out of those systems is a challenge, she said, and so is educating employees on the importance of open data.

Not everyone understood how open data worked, she said, and even today she must explain to some departments how and why open data works. “When I would go to agencies and ask them for data for OpenBaltimore they would give me these summarized reports,” she said. When she explained that she needed the raw data, some workers still didn’t understand. Some of the responses Hudson got, she said, sounded like, “Well, what is the public going to do with that?” and “What is the point?” and “That’s not even interesting.”

Part of the problem is budget limitations, she said. Government workers are as busy now as they’ve ever been, so when they get a request for data for OpenBaltimore, it doesn’t necessarily go to the top of their to-do list. Once she’s able to demonstrate that the work being done by OpenBaltimore could eventually make everyone’s jobs easier, however, she usually gets the support she’s looking for.

Hudson pointed to Philadelphia’s “Sheltr” app as an example. The app allows smartphone users to find services for homeless people, such as shelters or soup kitchens. The app was made possible by Philadelphia’s open data effort, which released the raw data pertaining to those services and locations. Hudson said she wanted a similar app for Baltimore, and after the usual initial confusion while trying to get the data from the responsible department, she showed the agency’s director the Sheltr app and that’s when the light when on. The director loved the app, Hudson said. The raw data for homeless services got released a few months ago and during the June 1 and 2 Hack For Change Baltimore event, a team of developers used the data to essentially replicate the Sheltr app being used in Philadelphia, for Baltimore.

Sometimes, Hudson said, open data can teach a city unexpected lessons. In February, a parking app called SpotAgent was released for use in Baltimore. The app helped users avoid parking tickets. By using the city’s open parking ticket data, which is updated daily, the developer could predict how safe a given parking spot was during a certain time from receiving a parking ticket. As it turned out, the app worked a little too well at first, Hudson said. “Then someone in our department of transportation realized we shouldn’t be that predictable,” she said. As a result, meter maids started randomizing their routes. The app's creator was a little disappointed, Hudson said.

Open data is part of her new position, Hudson said, but her main efforts will be focused on business intelligence, big data and transitioning Baltimore’s CitiStat performance measurement program to modern technology. “I’m anxious to get going, but I’m also a little bit humbled because it’s a massive effort ahead of me,” she said. “I’ve laid out the plan, but this isn’t going to be a quick transition. But I’m excited. This is something that’s going to benefit the city and the community enormously when we’re sharing data and doing true analytics with it.”

Photo from Shutterstock.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Social Network for Emergencies to Launch in San Francisco

May 8, 2013 By
Disasters are scary — there’s no question about it. But as much as they cause fear, they also bring people together, connecting communities in ways that few other incidents can. Focusing on those connections, rather than the catastrophe, is the theory behind the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management’s (SFDEM) new project, created to enhance the city’s disaster preparedness.

The site, set to launch this fall, aims to connect citizens willing to offer resources and services — from food, water and an extra generator to mechanical services and a place to stay — 72 hours after a disaster occurs.

“We wanted to create a message of preparedness that focused on creating communities that made people the star of the show rather than the catastrophe,” said Francis Zamora, public information officer for SFDEM.

The site will feature four categories: a place for people to connect and share resources and services; instructions on how to prepare for a disaster, including videos on putting together a kit and making potable water, plus testimonials from those who have survived disasters; a “make” section for users to invent their own ways to help; and an emergency mode, which will switch on when disaster strikes and share live information with the public, plus check for missing persons.

Created in collaboration with design firm IDEO, the goal is to make the site approachable and uncomplicated to help people shift from thinking that they should be doing more to prepare to actually taking action.

“We want to get people into the sharing mode ahead of time,” Zamora said.

SFDEM research shows that communities with natural social networks are more resilient than others, as citizen-to-citizen resource sharing proved necessary during hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

Encouraging communities to connect through a social network is part of the department’s larger plan to enhance San Francisco’s preparedness, said Zamora.

For those who aren’t connected online, the department is planning to have leaders from churches and other city organizations log-on to the site and relay the updated information to their social networks in person.

SFDEM is also looking into having people sign-in through Facebook or Google, limiting the amount of log-on information needed. will be completely open source, so any city around the country could potentially make the concept its own. There’s been regional interest and New York has already contacted the department to learn more about it, Zamora said.

The department recently completed a beta test for an app that allowed people to connect with others in the same neighborhood for sharing resources. But nothing is set in stone.

“We want it to be device and mobile friendly, but there may not be an app; it might just be a website,” Zamora said. SF72 could evolve after the launch, he said, if, for example, a coder has a people finder that works really well.

Zamora said the department is also exploring trusted networks for sharing resources to address privacy concerns about publicly announcing that someone owns a generator.

The first phase of work, which was grant funded and included research, design of mock ups and brand and focus groups, cost $399,000. The second phase, which will begin this month, cost $850,000 to complete the website, along with a ShareSF app prototype, according to Zamora.

The department is currently looking for partnerships with foundations and the private sector to complete the rest of the project.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock. This story was originally published by Emergency Management magazine.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If Practice Makes Perfect, Why Don’t Companies Practice More?

An H.Bloom University video conference. 
Courtesy of H.Bloom An H.Bloom University video conference.

In his terrific book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell writes about the importance of practice and, specifically, the necessity of completing 10,000 hours of practice in a particular field to become proficient. This makes sense to me. Everything I did before starting in business taught me that practice was essential to achieving success. In school, I had two or three exams each semester, but I went to class every day. Moreover, I had voluminous amounts of homework each night to refine my skills in a particular subject. In football, there were 10 games in a season, but nearly 100 practices.

 Why is it that, in business, no one ever practices?

At my previous company, practice was viewed as an afterthought. Once a year, someone would say, “Maybe we should do some training.” Heads would nod, and the person who had come up with the idea would arrange for a third-party specialist to come in to conduct training for a particular group within the company. Members of that group would shuffle into the room, help themselves to the coffee and bagels, nod politely to the instructor as a lesson was presented and then shuffle out at the end — knowing that they would not be subjected to practice or training again until the next year. Every day was a game, and excellence was expected despite the utter absence of practice.

I view this as a massive opportunity. If most companies put their “players” on the “field” without the benefit of practice, surely those that put real emphasis on practice would gain a distinct advantage. Here’s what we’re doing at H.Bloom:

SEED Program
We introduced our SEED Program at the beginning of 2011. The program recruits people who aspire to run their own business but know that they need to learn the basics. We bring these ambitious folks into one of our already-existing markets and have them rotate through all aspects of the business: buying, production, delivery, account-management, sales and customer service. Those who graduate have the opportunity to move to a different city to open and run a new H.Bloom market. Today, four of our five markets are run by SEED graduates, and we have another three SEED participants in rotation now, hoping for their chance to open and lead a new market.

The SEED Program for market managers has worked so well that we are starting a SEED Program for sales people. I alluded to this possibility in a previous post, and I am happy to report that it is happening. Even more exciting, the ambitious person I interviewed in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago has accepted our offer and is moving to New York City to be our first Sales-SEED participant. We expect to start the program by the end of May with a group of people who will engage in a three-to-six-month program that consists of daily lead-generation activities, weekly sales training, on-the-ground training in our New York market and monthly classes with members of our executive team. Successful graduates will have the opportunity to move to a new market and lead our sales efforts there.

H.Bloom University

At the end of last year, we started H.Bloom University. While the SEED Program is focused on training people to take on a new role, H.Bloom University is meant to refine the skills of people in their current roles. We are running two tracks, and a few other tracks are under development:


Our entire sales team meets monthly, by video conference, to work on specific sales skills. One of our sales managers leads each of the sessions. Training classes have included: time management, building a sales pipeline, cold calling and using Salesforce. The instructor builds a slide deck to present and oversees a skills workshop for each participant.


One of the most fulfilling aspects of my job is leading the monthly management classes. Again, these are done by video conference. I do two each month on the same topic: one for our market managers and one for our sales managers. I split the group to ensure that each person’s face can show up on the video screen — we use Adobe Connect to facilitate the conference, and a session of six people is about the maximum for getting ideal user engagement.

Recent classes have covered communication, feedback, expectation/goal setting, inspection of results and data-driven decision-making (which I will cover in more detail in my next post). I come up with the topic, and then our head of talent, Rebekah Rombom, finds reading material that is germane to the coming discussion. Recent readings have included chapters from Jim Collins “Good to Great” and Kenneth Blanchard’s “The One Minute Manager.”

This week, I’ll be reviewing our profit-and-loss statement in detail, walking through the things I look at in the income statement and the levers we can flip to improve the economics of our business. At the end of each class, I make an assignment (based on feedback I got from our Dallas manager, Julie Schiller, a former school teacher, who told me that retention of lessons is highest when an assignment is given immediately after a class so that students have the chance to put the new information into practice). We then schedule a follow-up for each attendee to present their work for that assignment to the group.

Operations and Floral Design

Rebekah is developing a program for these two position-types. We expect to start the programs for our operations team members and floral designers by the end of the year.


We’ve engaged with a third party to help arrange customized training classes for our software engineers. I’ll have more to discuss on this topic after the first sessions are held.
We’ve really just gotten started with our efforts. I don’t think we do it well yet or with the frequency that I’d like. But I do believe we have identified an opportunity to build a fundamental advantage in our business.

Bryan Burkhart is a founder of H.Bloom. You can follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


GMIS 2013 Annual Conference

 GMIS 2013 Annual Conference
August 18 - 21, 2013

Westin Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina

The GMIS Annual Conference is excited to offer three full days of expert panels, esteemed keynote speakers and excellent opportunities to meet and network with the leaders who are shaping the future of information technology in the public sector across the United States as well as internationally. Don't miss this incredible opportunity to interact with your peers in the lovely city of Charlotte, North Carolina.

The organizations you serve, the mission you share, the profession you advance - those are the reasons you go to the GMIS International Annual Conference.  Share your experience and leadership, your energy and enthusiasm, your knowledge and skills.  Come together with other Information Technology leaders from throughout the country to explore new initiatives, navigate current challenges, and learn firsthand what others in your industry are doing around the globe to stay ahead.  Leave this meeting knowing you will make a difference.

GMIS Vendor Partners - Interested in Attending the Annual Conference?
Conference registration is available to those companies that sponsor and/or exhibit at the annual conference. Sponsoring the annual conference is an excellent way to demonstrate your company's products and services to government IT decision makers from throughout the United States. You'll also have the opportunity to network with International delegates. A variety of sponsorship and exhibit opportunities are available. Secure your level of participation today to ensure the greatest amount of interaction with your target audience.
Registration Information
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Charlotte, NC Information

Conference Registration is Open!  

Early Bird by July 19       Regular after July 19       Onsite after August 18
Full Conference Member$425$475$525
Full Conference Non-Member         $475$525$575
One-Day Member$275$300$325
One-Day Non-Member$300$325$350
Extra Badge for Vendor$500$500$500